Monday, May 23, 2011

Hiking in SW France with Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon

I picked up the trail of the GR64 in St-Cyprien, in the Dordogne of SW France, and spent the day hiking to Les Eyzies, home of the National Museum of Prehistory as well as the center of an area with a remarkably high concentration of early modern human (Cro-Magnon) and Neanderthal sites.

Though visitors were overtaking the nearby towns, I saw not a soul on the trail except for a man in a forest clearing, tending his vineyard.

I passed old caves, native forest, and farmsteads speckled with black and white cows.

It was stunning to hike in a landscape traversed for thousands of years by ancient humans, from some 300,000 to 10,000 years ago. My senses grew sharper and my imagination expanded, contemplating what their realities might have been.

Four and a half hours later, after interpreting some ambiguous trail markers or lack thereof, I arrived in Les Eyzies. On the edge of town, along with signs pointing to numerous famous prehistoric sites, was a hand-painted board informing me that I would find wine in 50 meters. I think Cro-Magnon would have liked that.

To read more on this fascinating place and ancestry, check out
On Hearths, Ancient and Modern:

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